Some musings on Free Will. C.S. Lews supposedly said "You ARE a Soul you HAVE a body." Basically this suggests that the soul is the important bit and the body, while nice, doesn't matter overly much in the long run. It is going to be worm food anyway. I have always liked this as a notion of free will. Biology only determines so much, your soul decides what type of person you will be.
As I have listen more to various NPR stories and read a few things on the subject, I am becomming less and less convinced. Studies regarding sexuality, addiction, risk taking, etcetera all suggest a STRONG biological component. This suggests more and more that we aren't so much making decisions as we are playing to our programming.
I am a big fan of free will. The notions that our actions are little more than biological programming really upsets me. But then that may be my biological programming talking.
I once had a long talk with some Rationalist/Athiests about this topic. I suggested that a prt of me LIKED the idea of magic actually existing, because I liked the idea that sometimes "things just happen" without explanation. It makes free will all the more likely. I asked 'do you believe that it is possible to make a computer that will determine all actions of the past and all actions that will be based on mathematical precision? I was the only one who said that I thought it would be a BAD thing if this were true. Both of my Rationalist friends said that while the technology doesn't currently exist, and may never reach that point, they beleived that it was theoretically possible to do so.
So what do people think? How much free will can we be said to have?
Flames... Burning on the side of my face... Why is it, that almost invariably when I tell someone that what they are doing is wrong or illegal, their response is to tell me either "Some other place says I can do this" or "This is the way we've done it hundreds of time."
I didn't ask either of those questions. I made a legal statement as to the correctness or incorrectness of your actions. The fact that someone else may let you get away with it, or that you may have performed an illegal act hundreds of times before and not gotten caught, in no way makes your actions legal!
Next time I get pulled over for speeding, I am going to use this defense: Officer, I regularly drive 80 Miles an Hour on the interstate. I've done it hundreds of times. You can't give me a ticket.
In Memoriam Jasmine Maurer (Family Pet) My wife always says before giving bad news, always say whats ok. When I called swiftwind23 to tell him I wouldn't be at dinner and poker because Jasmine had a seizure, apparently I was not clear as to whom Jasmine was and he was worried that a human being had had a seizure and maybe that twelveoaks had. So. I include in the In Memoriam that Jasmine is a dog and not a sister or something.
When Cosmo was about 6 or so, she really wanted a dog. Mongasika was only 2 and so she wasn't quite as vehemant, but anything her sister wanted, she wanted as well. It was all we heard for a while. Dog dog dog. My wife and I put her off for a good while, explaining she needed to be older, that she would not want to take care of a dog, etc. The clinching point was when a neighbor up the street had puppies and was giving them away for free. We had visions of Cosmo coming home, having convinced the family that we agreed to take one. We knew we had to act fast.
tha_monsta's wife worked with an animal shelter. We asked her for an older dog.We didn't want to have to teach it potty training. We didn't want it chewing up our furniture. We didn't want it running around and tearing up the house. We ended up with Jasmine. She was about 8 years old when we got her. Well into doggy middle age. She was a sedate grand lady. Her only real bad habit was that if you left food unsupervised, she would eat it. Apparently she was a street dog and her scavanger skills were honed to a fine art. She could get food from the table, she could probably eventually get food off the kitchen counter.
She had other problems as well. She somehow managed to stink no matter how many baths we gave her. Her farts were truly things of legend. She had a bit of a limp in her hind leg, the vet thinks it was an incident with a car that never fully healed. Her head had a bony ridge that was the result of malnutrition over a long period of time. Even when she was new to us, she developed the nick name "Litch Dog." But she put up with everything with stoic good humor. Even when we got the cats, she would occasionally bark at them and chase them to show her dominance then go back to sleeping in her bean bag chair. Life went on like that for about 4-5 years
Over the past year or so, things started sliding downhill for her. She started losing weight. She had a week or so of really bad vertigo where we were all sure we were going to lose her. She could barely walk. She threw up everything she ate. It was pitiful. Back in December the vet said that she was becoming dangerously unhealthy weight wise, and that her heart murmur made it almost impossible to put her under and run any tests that might hellp us hep her. In any event she was already around 14 years old and that was pretty old for a dog her size. She started having trouble with incontinence which was quite the treat I tell you. I probably cleaned up dog mess ona weekly basis. So I was sure that despite losing weight, she was eating! Often my wife or I would carry her up the stairs so she could sleep in our room.
Last night, just before we left to go to our weekly Wild Wing dinner and poker event, she had a massive seizure right in the middle of the lviing room. She thrashed. her teeth chattered and her entire body was stiff as a board. It lasted about five minutes. After that she was calm but still rigid and still had trouble moving at all. We called the vet and took her in. The vet told us that the likely reason for the seizure was a brain tumor. And that the brain tumor would also explain the incontinence and the loss of weight. He said that in order to help her we would have to spend several thousand dollars in diagnostic tests. And that the results of those tests would likely be fatal whatever they were. The best we could really do was determine her condition and medicate that condition for the remainder of her life, which would likely be short and filled with seizures. Fairly quickly we agreed that the best option was Euthenasia.
loresinger brought the kids to say good bye. Jasmine was fairly heavily sedated so she would not have any more seizures. They got to cry and pet Jasmine as much as they wanted. Mongasika had made a little picture of a heart with Jasmine inside of it and wrote Jasmine's name at the bottom. We all cried ad reminised about good Jasmine stories. I pointed out that she got a last meal. That she ate some pizza that the Mines Kids left out on the coffee table. The girls went and sat in the lobby with loresinger while twelveoaks and I watched the doctor Euthanize our dog. It only took a few minutes before Jasmine was gone. The vet made an impression of her paw to take with us. The medium was sculpy. We were given instructions on how to properly bake sculpy and laughed a bit about the irony.
This weekend we will probably buy a bush and plant it in the yard. We will put Jasmine's sculpy paw print under it. It is interesting. When I saw my dad's body back in 1996, I lost my faith for about a year. I said that there was obviously no god, that my dad was gone, and that there was no afterlife to look forward to. Ultimately I did come back to my faith and have remained strong in it, if not my religion. This time, when Jasmine died, I did feel a sense of peace. I was reminded of the statement made, I think it was by DeLenn in Babylon five that said "The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are star-stuff. We are the Universe, made manifest, trying to figure itself out" I really felt that when I said good bye to Jasmine. We are all the same thing. We are all star-stuff. And that Jasmine is still part of us.
If I had to chose now between the two, I would pick Rift, but it is not so much better that I would leave my friends over it. In addition, I still need to know how Instancing, PVP and endgame plays out.
Congratulations Jorge and Amy! In an effort to raise international awareness of the Tsunami and Earthquake, Japanese Gameshows are hosting "International Week" and flying citizens from 21 countries to Japan for a week of tourism, visiting disaster sites, and of course, playing their games. Atlanta's own Jorge Diaz was chosen out of thousands of American Applicants, and you can't guess which Game Show he'll be participating in....
Too Much Internet before bed time.. Or too many Japaneese game shows So I dreamed last night that I was on some sort of game show. At just below waist level there were a number of carboard tiles. The tiles had prizes listed on them, mostly cash prizes as I recall. The purpose of the game was to ejaculate on as many tiles as you could in 1/2 an hour. I remember thinking "I might be able to go twice, but thats really asking a lot." And then I woke up and thought "WTF was that?"
Two Stories from NPR It saddens me greatly that NPR is under attack again. They are really such a wonderful resource. The breadth and depth of their stories are far greater than any other american news outlet that I am aware of. In addition they have personal interest stories that go well beyond "Missing White Girl" or "The Drug Antics of Charlie Sheen." I listen to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" regularly and I get a bit of information from it, albeit with a humorous spin. I also regularly listen to Fresh Air which is often topical but not directly news. On the way to work I listened to two stories that struck me as completely facinating.
The first story was about "Hela Cells." A woman Named Henrietta Lacks went to Hopkins Hospital around 1950 for cervical cancer. The doctor took samples of her cancerous cells and her healthy cells. The healthy cells died off but the cancer cells grew like mad. Cultures of Hela Cells were sent to all sorts of labs for experiments and medical research. They were instrumental in the breakthroughs on the Polio Vaccine, research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and many other scientific pursuits. There are over 60,000 scientific articles that rely on Hela Cells for their work. Hela Cells are listed as an "immortal" cell line and in fact they apparently are so prolific that they get into a lot of other cell lines and corrupt them because the Hela Cells grow so quickly.
I thought there has to be some sort of gaming application for this process. The NPR article discussed that her family considers Henrietta herself immortal and that she was made immortal so that she could cure diseases. I thought a "Church of Henrietta Lacks" would make a great organization! The immortal body of Henrietta Lacks is immense. More than **50,000,000 METRIC TONS** of Henrietta Lacks has been created. Her body could be wrapped aroudn the earth 3 times! This is a being that makes Akira or even Cthulhu look like a guppy! She is born of cancer and yet cures diseases. The Lacks family believes also that the corruption of other cell lines by Hela Cells is a sign of her wrath for the misuse of her cells and the ill treatment of her decendants (many of whom live in abject poverty while multi-billion dollar corporations exist because of the research on Hela Cells). If i ever run my Nobilis campaign, somehow there is goign to be a Cult of Henrietta.
The second story was about a brilliant chef who made all sorts of avant garde foods. Apparently many of his meals were 30+ courses of bite sized foods. One such dish included a cube geletanized Brandy and a cube of geletanized sweet potato stuck like a dumbell between a cinnimon stick and lit on fire! Unfortunately this chef contracted tongue cancer and lost his sense of taste. I was wondering where I had heard about this, when it hit me. This was a Sketch in "That Mitchell and Webb Look." The chef made a robot to taste for him. It did a terrible job. Hillarity ensued. Anyone who has not see "That Mitchell and Webb Look" should give it a shot. The first three seasons are available on Netflix Streaming. Multiple skits are available on Youtube. In fact. I will leave you with the Chef Skit here. If you don't like it, double your money back!
False Equvilancies abound! I've been thinking about the shooting in Arizona a bit. From what I saw, the shooter gave the left little real ammo to use, although that didn't stop a lot of people. If anything, I actually agreed with James Carville who said "this isn't an issue about talk show hosts, it should be about gun control" more or less. Naturally the NRA has been screaming 'they want to take our guns' at the top of their lungs on the matter.
So, do I blame talk radio for the shooting in Arizona? Absolutely not. This guy was obviously a mental case who had tons of problems. Listening to or not listening to the Right Wing Noise Machine wass not going to affect his delusions very much. He may be a case for preventing mentally disabled people from owning weapons, but that is going to be a very thorny issue. I've been to a psychiatrist and proscribed medication for anxiety in the past (mostly when the firm was falling down around my head) so am I ineligable to own a handgun?
Anyway, the usual response from the Right to the left's allegations of hate speach was not to say 'this shooting had nothing to do with hate speach' and respond with 'The left also engages in hate speach.' This response is disingenous. While there are relatively common events of individuals spouting off (Like Rep. Steve Cohen likening Republicans to Klansmen and Nazis), they tend not to be embraced by the Left in General. No one ever apologized to Keith Olbermann for daring to criticise him. Sure the left has Cynthia McKinney but she's seen even by her own party as kind of a nutjob (who managed to lose her congressional seat TWICE in the last decade). The right on the other hand has seriously hateful speach coming out of presidential contenders (Palin, Gingrich) and they seem to have almost unlimited air time on FOX who will give them a platform any time they wish it.
Now. I will admit that I listen to Overtime with Bill Maher. I certainly don't quote him to score political points, as some people do with Limbaugh. He also doesn't seem near as over the top as Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh. I mean look at the recent Chineese kerfuffle Limbaugh got into. It was truly tasteless. I never listened to Keith Olbermann. I don't know if he is in the league with the big three I mentioned on the right.
But basically 'both sides do it' is like one guy using a spitgun and the other guy using an uzi. And that frustrates me.
Things I learned playing Solitare If you play long enough... YOU WIN. I refer mostly to economics/employment stuff, butI refer mostly to economics/employment stuff, but it does count in other places as well. I've been winning most of the other games so long I can't really remember losing.
I think thats something I need to keep in mind for the next 30 years or so. I was certainly winning from about 2000-2006 in the whole employment game. I was secure. Business was coming in. I was making more money than I ever expected to (even before I left Ron's Office). I hit the skids bad in 2006-current but when you look at it, I'm still paying all my bills. I haven't had to default on anything. I haven't had to declare bankrupcty. I haven't had to move back in with my parents (or twelveoaks's parents more likely). So its hard to say I am still not "winning" I am just not as ahead as I used to be.
Thats where the anxiety stuff really eats away at me. I tend to look at any downward trend as something that will continue and that if I am -100 now, I will be -1000 in the future. But thats just not the way life works. If you play long enough.. you win. If you go bankrupt and default on everythign and live with your parents. The next job may pull you out of all of that. I actually know lots of people that went through just that. Rush Limbaugh failed at several businesses before he started his media empire. George W. Bush ran everything into the ground and he's still making a decent pension ($191,300 give or take) and free secret service protectionfor 10 years (and free healthcare!). Now I am not expecting to be the next Limbaugh or Bush (for which about 70% of my readers will be greatful) but after you hit bottom there is no where to go but up.
And like I said, I think this theory works in other places. Terrible divorce/horrible romance? If you play long enough... YOU WIN! Lots of people don't get married until their 40s and then live happily ever after. I had a friend who had cystic fibrosis. His parents said he wouldn't survive to his teens. He was told as a teenager he wouldn't see 20. I think he made it to just about 30. Every day was a win for him.
So you may lose a hand. When you play solitare, you lose most of them.. Just shuffle the deck and give it another whirl. If you play long enough... YOU WIN.
Attitude vs. Reality So I have been kinda stressy and anxious for the past month or so. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the season. But a lot of it seems to be comming out of nowhere. That always frustrates me.
I've posted before about would I rather be a content idiot living in a trailer park and watching mindless reality shows or would I rather be discontent but more active and involved in life and self descovery. Pretty much every time I pick the latter, but when I start to worry to much, I wonder how much IQ and Ambition I would give up to just not worry anymore. You get to the whole "Perhaps if I were just committed and lived my life in a bathrobe being fed my meds, I would have a rather content life."
Naturally as much of a control freak as I am, this would be a special type of hell, but when I get upset and nervous, I sometimes think about it.
MEME! Lets see how I do on this. I like starting memes far more than I enjoy the thought of participating in one.
A friend of mine had a site where it put his FB photo up as "Time's Person of the Year." It got me to thinking: What would I want to be recognized as person of the year for. Killing Arthas? Closing a really big loan? I guess I'd like to be recognized as Man of the year for being a Good Father, Husband and Friend. Really those are the most important qualities to me. So if I am going to be recognized. Somethign like that. Maybe brokering some peace deal between Israel and the rest of the Arab world. Like I meet Netanyahu and Fayyad on MARTA and just talk them into working together. That might be nice. Alternately if I could somehow get into politics and drain all the partisan hatred going down. Maybe I could go all Jesus in the temple and drive out Lobbyists with whips. I don't think I'm going to feed the hungry or clothe ne naked so that's out. I just want to get people to talk to each other.
15 Favorite Characters Meme. So Facebook has a 15 Favorite Characters Meme. I thought it might be more interesting in Livejournal. Note that these characters are from my childhood. I would have a totally different list now. I am trying to keep myself back to pre-high school stuff.
Looking back on almost 40 years. So. Within a mere 5 days I will reach my 40th birthday. Its a pretty amazing thing to think about. Often I say I want to live to be 130 so that I can live through 3 centuries (the 20th the 21st and a bit of the 22nd). Nowadays I think I've had a pretty good run and am not sure if I would take the offer if it were presented to me in some real fashion. This is not to say my life is bad. Quite to the contrary, I've had a remarkably blessed life. But I wonder if there is really that much more to DO that would require 90 more years. Other than watching my children grow up, I find that my life is rather routine and has been so since arround 30 or so. Again, I'm not really bored, but I feel that the sense of wonder, of new mountains to climb, are rapidly diminishing around 40.
Election Results: A Speaks Perspective I am dissapointed that the Republicans Swept the house in such large numbers. I feel that anyone making less than $500,000 a year or so that votes Republican is voting against their own interests. There are some that vote on 'moral' issues. My mom will basically vote for whomever promises to outlaw abortions, despite the fact that Roe v. Wade is settled Law for 50 years. There is plenty of wedge issues against the gays. Honestly as a fiscal conservitave, I had to distance myself from the Republicans long before I came to the conclusion that they haven't been Fiscally Conservative in my lifetime. I couldn't stand in the same room with the amout of mysogyny, racism, religious intolerance and homophobia that the Republican Party attracts.
I think that the people who switched from Obama and the Democrats back to the Republicans had too little patience with the time it takes to fix an economy as big as ours. If Obama can't fix the mess in 2 years, fuck him and go back to the people who MADE THE MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
I am glad that the Tea Party Movement for the most part was repudiated. Rand Paul was handily elected but a Ham Sandwich could take Kentucky if an (R) was after its name. Mark Rubio was the one clear Tea Party victory. The Tea Party managed to cause huge losses and rifts in Deleware, Nevada and OMG Alaska. Hopefully people will take a step back from the crazy O'Donnells Angles, and Palins. There were a few House Members that were Tea Party people. But again, Ham Sandiwch wins in those highly gerrimandered districts. It will be interesting to see if there are huge fights in the house between old guard republicans and new tea party republicans.
Ultimately I will just pray that things work out. I always try to give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this congress will come together and make everything spiffy.
A funny little dream/daydream So my wife goes off to work at 6:00 every morning and I have this little half hour break between that and when I have to get my kids up to go to school. Often I just lay there and pray (I do a lot of praying) or think about the day, or whatever suits my fancy.
Recently a lot of the trees have been dropping their acorns as the season changes. I had some weird little idea that the trees were actually gleefully throwing acorns at our house. That they were all going to the other trees and saying "hey watch this!" and then dropping acorns on my roof. This actually went further and I imagined that during the fall the trees shed their leaves like little kids getting naked to play in the hose. I imagined Mother nature going "Oh god, the trees are all stripping naked and going around the Earth nude again" This led me to postulate that trees were actually the happiest during the winter when they got to be naked all the time. Then Mother Nature came back during the spring and made them put their clothes back on.
So there you have a weird little insight into the way my mind works.
More things learned on Glee So it seems a lot of my updates have to do with the TV show Glee. It makes sense I guess because its something we do with the whole family. And often it engenders a fair bit of discussion with the kids. Surprisingly, I am going to leave the whole Brittney Spears thing alone. It was a little more "sexy" than I would generally have my kids watch, especially all the stuff with the reporter kid (naked masturbating in the library? Really? Ewww...) Today's discussion is Artie and his really sad ambition to join the football team.
I'm all for letting people with disabilities do as much as they can possibly do, but letting a kid in a wheelchair join a varsity high school football team is not one of them. I can only really see that as terribly dangerous to himself and the other players on the team. His idea that he could be "pushed along like a battering ram" gives me images of trampled Artie, or other football players trying to tackle a metal chair and hurting themselves.
I understand that the show is farce and silly. But there is something very depressing about Artie continually trying to do something that he just can't do. I am not sure what Biest is planning on doing, putting him on the team. And I am also wondering why we never see Kurt in pads anymore or even at practice. Allegedly he is still their place kicker. Its been mentioned a few times.
What would make me happier is for Artie to discover wheelchair sports. There exist Wheelchair Football and Basketball leagues although in Lima Ohio there may not be a lot of good opportunity to draw from. He could certainly do weights (as he did in his one number) if he wants to impress Tina with huge pecs, although I think Mike Chang has him beat for some time to come.
So is Artie offensive to Handicapped people? I get uneasy with him asking to join the sports team but its more "Honey, you just can't do that." rather than "OMG Glee is offensive!" I know that there was an uproar that they did not pick an actual person in a wheelchair to play Artie (in fact Chris Colfer was trying out for Artie as well but then got cast as Kurt who didn't previousl exist for the show).
(I promise to do a LJ on something non glee soon. Probably discussion of the book Daemon)
Thoughts on these dark days. For the last 4 years really, the Economy has been for crap. I've seen many friends lose their jobs, sometimes multiple times. I've seen some friends lose their houses. Really good and competent people have been looking for work for months or even a year or so. Over the past couple days I have talked to people who confided that the uncertain economy has been hurting their health, damaging their relationships with others, and generally making them unhappy.
I am highly prone to anxiety. Its probably hereditary. My father used to wake up in the middle of the night worried that the house might catch on fire, or my sisters may get pregnant. I see the signs of it in Cosmo as well. She can get very worked up over sometimes what seems very simple. So if simple things can get me worked up, imagine what four years of more or less continual hearing about how everything goes to shit does to me.
I go up and down. I try to put on a good face all the time. I went for professional help back in 2007 when things were really more in shock. I guess these days I am more numb.
What I have been trying to do.. What keeps me going... Is that on a day to day basis I am ok. I have a family that loves me and that I love. I have friends that are fiercely loyal. I am strong in my faith despite, or perhaps because of adversity. Today I read in a friend's FaceBook status that he "is trying to let go and to just be." Its some good wisdom from the East. Very Taoist and very applicable.
Everyone who reads this, know that you are loved. That you have people out there who will take care of you. No matter how shitty the world gets, let that be your bedrock and foundation. Live in the moments and enjoy the good ones, and all things will be well.
Miss Manners on Spoilers I've been listening to a lot of movie podcasts recently. One (The Movielicious) only generally reviews current movies while the other (FilmSack) reviews older movies, largely for nostalga value. Both shows talk a fair bit about what is a spoiler and what is ok to talk about and when its ok to spoil and the like.
Interestingly, the people on FilmSack feel that its different based on movies, books, and TV shows and I think that might be right. As a rule of thumb they are more willing to spoil movies a few months after the movie comes out because generally a film gets most of its revenue inthe first month or two that it is out. The theory is that if you haven't seen it in that 2 month window, you probably don't care if someone spoils it for you. There are certain caveats given for movies that are VERY twisty (The Sixth Sense, Crying Game, etc) but for the most part after a couple months they feel its ok to discuss a movie.
Books were the middle view. The shelf lifes of books are relatively long so I might choose to pick up and read Ender's game just now. So its harder to know when its a spoiler or not. Generally the big best sellers (In My community: Harry Potter, George RR Martin, Robert Jordan) are going to be picked up and discussed relatively quickly, so if you want to avoid being spoiled you should probably pick those up soon. But there does not seem to be a specific "ok you can spoil now" on this line of literature. There's just some general "Surely by now everyone knows Snape Killed Dumbledore" vibe that makes it ok.
TV shows they are actually hardest on. Their theory is you cannot spoil until a year after the SERIES FINALE. That if I were to reveal cylon information, its just now starting to become ok to do so. This is also interesting because in a DIFFERENT PODCAST (Paul and Storm talk about things for 10 minutes) there was a discussion about a spoiler in W00TSTOCK where a cameo appearance by a member of the BSG cast included a spoiler regarding cylons. They actually felt that it shouldn't be spoiled like that ebcause things were too fresh. (Note I am refusing to spoil as well). My wife and I are just watching Season 3 of the Wire now. Although its not SUPER TWISTY I would be sad to know some stuff that happens ahead of time.
Wow Pretty Thingie! One of my LJ buddies introduced me to http://www.wordle.net which makes a fun word cloud of text you put in. I entered in my livejournal. It appears to have pulled from the first few entries. I got this: